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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 October, 2004, 03:22 GMT 04:22 UK
Report concludes no WMD in Iraq
Saddam Hussein pictured in 2002
Saddam Hussein had used chemical weapons in the past
Iraq had no stockpiles of biological, chemical or nuclear weapons before last year's US-led invasion, the chief US weapons inspector has concluded.

Iraq Survey Group head Charles Duelfer said Iraq's nuclear capability had decayed not grown since the 1991 war.

But in a 1,000-page report his group said Saddam Hussein intended to resume production of banned weapons when UN sanctions were lifted.

The US and UK used allegations of Iraqi WMDs as a key reason for going war.

It is also clear that there was every intention on Saddam's part to develop weapons and that he did not have any intention of complying with the UN resolutions
Tony Blair
UK Prime Minister

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But despite the lack of actual weapons, the White House said the report showed Saddam Hussein's intent and capability and justifies the decision to go to war.

Democrats, on the other hand, used the report to attack the Bush administration, claiming the president misled the American people.

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair said that while he now accepted that Iraq held no stockpiles of WMD ready to be deployed at the time of the invasion, the report showed that UN sanctions had not been working.

Key findings in the report:

  • "The ISG has not found evidence that Saddam possessed WMD stocks in 2003, but [there is] the possibility that some weapons existed in Iraq, although not of a militarily significant capability."

  • "There is an extensive, yet fragmentary and circumstantial body of evidence suggesting that Saddam pursued a strategy to maintain a capability to return to WMD after sanctions were lifted... "

  • "The problem of discerning WMD in Iraq is highlighted by the pre-war misapprehensions of weapons which were not there. Distant technical analysts mistakenly identified evidence and drew incorrect conclusions."

'Unaffordable risk'

The ISG also published a list of people and groups to whom Saddam Hussein allegedly offered cheap oil in return for their support in trying to get UN sanctions lifted.

Many on the list - drawn from official Iraqi documents - are from Russia, France and China - countries which opposed the war in Iraq.

Saddam Hussein may be guilty of a number of dreadful things, but thought crime - is this a new legal precedent?
Cameron Haig, New York

The BBC's Adam Brookes in Washington says the report will be used by both sides in the US election race - while laying to rest the myth of WMDs it will inflame the argument over whether Iraq under Saddam Hussein constituted a true threat.

President Bush again defended last year's invasion, though he made no reference to the report.

He told supporters on his election campaign trail that the world was better off without Saddam Hussein, and the risk of him passing weapons of mass destruction (WMD) to terror groups was "a risk we could not afford to take".

But the top Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, Senator Carl Levin, said Mr Duelfer's findings undercut the government's main arguments for war.

"We did not go to war because Saddam had future intentions to obtain weapons of mass destruction," Mr Levin said.

High political stakes

Mr Blair said the report showed that Saddam Hussein had planned to develop WMD.

Set up in May 2003
First leader, David Kay, quit in Jan 2004 stating WMD would not be found in Iraq
New head, Charles Duelfer appointed by CIA
1,200 experts from the US, Britain and Australia
HQ in Washington, offices in Baghdad and Qatar

"I welcome the report because I think it will show us that it is far more of a complicated situation than people thought," he told reporters during a trip to Ethiopia.

Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister, Barhem Saleh, said anyone who doubted that Saddam Hussein had WMDs only needed to visit Halabja - where the former Iraq dictator had gassed thousands of Kurds.

But former chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix said he hoped Mr Blair and Mr Bush would now admit that the invasion of Iraq was a mistake.

"Had we had a few months more [of inspections before the war], we would have been able to tell both the CIA and others that there were no weapons of mass destruction [at] all the sites that they had given to us," he said, quoted by the Associated Press news agency.

The ISG's verdict has been widely anticipated since the former head of the group, David Kay, resigned in January, and following the leaking of a draft copy of the report last month.

The group plans to continue translating and evaluating an estimated 10,000 boxes of documents seized in Iraq.

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